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Mystified, I resorted to brute force

Though many backlash articles are fuelled by anger or derision, this is genuinely intended to be customer feedback and nothing more. Designers rarely find out how their designs fare in the real world, and they cannot be expected to improve their designs without feedback.

Johnson Wax Ltd
Frimley Green
GU16 5AJ

3 June 2001

Dear Sir,

I bought a bottle of Mr Muscle sink and plughole unblocker on Saturday. When I attempted to use the bottle, I found that I was unable to open it. I looked for instructions and found only a diagram on the lid with two numbered arrows. Having tried a variety of combinations of pushing, twisting, squeezing and turning, I eventually had to resort to brute force in order to open the product; I used scissors to cut the outer and inner lids off.

It is my opinion that the bottle had a fault. I imagine, having looked at the insides of the cap, that you are meant to push down while turning it, and that this is intended to engage the inner lid, break its seal and allow you to remove it. The bottle in question was bending as I pushed down, and so I was unable to use its mechanism properly. However, though manufacturing faults or damage during shipping cannot always be accounted for in the design of the packaging, I believe that there were a couple of design flaws which might be worth improving on in the future.

The frustration I encountered, while attempting to open your product, was caused by a combination of the failure of the bottle to open and my uncertainty about whether I was doing something wrong. The diagram on the top of the bottle, while it appears to represent the correct procedure, only makes sense once you know what you are doing; it is no substitute for a brief written description. I appreciate that a diagram can cross language barriers, but that diagram did nothing for me. Perhaps the diagram itself could be improved; the fact that the picture of the hand and lid is not centred within the arrows made it seem ambiguous. I would have called your helpline, but it is closed on a Saturday.

I know that my problem in opening the bottle was more due to the fault than the instructions, but I hope you will be able to consider my plight when you next look at the design of your packaging.

Your sincerely

Ashley Frieze

03 June 2001
Ashley Frieze